For an MLS-heavy camp, it should come as no surprise that one of the Americans’ top domestic central defenders makes the January roster. Camp Cupcake (are we still calling it that? Sound off in the comments) will include Nashville’s Walker Zimmerman.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 5, 2021) – Nashville Soccer Club in conjunction with the U.S. Soccer Federation announced today that 2020 Major League Soccer Defender of the Year and Best XI center back Walker Zimmerman will join the U.S. Men’s National Team for its upcoming camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Zimmerman will join the U.S. Men’s National Team on Friday, Jan. 9 as they prepare for a 2021 campaign that includes the Concacaf Nations League Final Four, the Gold Cup and the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup™ Qualifying.
The 27-year-old center back has earned 13 caps and recorded two goals with the USMNT. Zimmerman’s last appearance came as a substitute in the 83rd minute in a 6-0 win over El Salvador in an international friendly on Dec. 9, 2020.
Zimmerman has played the full 90 minutes in six of the last seven matches with the USMNT, posting six shutouts, three of them during the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Zimmerman is coming off a groundbreaking campaign in Nashville’s inaugural MLS season in 2020, as he helped guide the Boys in Gold to a historic year. Behind the leadership of Zimmerman, Nashville became the second expansion club in MLS history to reach the Conference Semifinals in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
The veteran also guided Nashville to two Audi MLS Cup Playoff victories, becoming the first expansion team since the 1998 Chicago Fire to win a playoff match in their expansion year.
In the club’s inaugural season, Zimmerman and Nashville posted a goal-against average of 0.96 goals per game, the best of any expansion club in league history, and tied for the league-lead with nine clean sheets this season. The club allowed 22 goals this season, third fewest in the league, and only two goals more than the league leaders.
The MLS Best XI selection was a force on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Zimmerman scored three goals and registered one assist in 22 starts. He scored the first goal in Nashville history on Feb. 29 in the club’s inaugural match. The 27-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team regular led MLS with 69 headed clearances, while his 64 aerials won were tied for sixth-most.Nashville SC release
This is Zimmerman’s second call-up since joining Nashville (in addition to the call last month, referenced in the article), and he also played in last year’s January camp shortly before joining the Boys in Gold.
Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson (U-23 eligible), New York Red Bulls’ Aaron Long, and LAFC’s Tristan Blackmon (though he typically plays RB – poorly – in Los Angeles) are among the other recognized players called in for the camp at the position, with New England Revolution rookie Henry Kessler an intriguing young name on the list.
The US Soccer release implies that there will be a single international friendly at the conclusion of the camp. In some past years, there have been two, and with a bigger group of players in camp, it wouldn’t have surprised to see the Federation try to schedule a pair of games to give more of the young players a chance to mix in with the senior squad.